The US Air Force (USAF) 354th Fighter Wing has activated the 354th Range Squadron (RANS), which will manage 77,000 square miles of airspace.

The 354th Fighter Wing squadron was activated to increase the significance of the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) as a venue for high-end air combat training.

USAF 354th RANS commander Lieutenant Colonel Russell Reese said: “With the arrival of the F-35 [A Lightning II] at Eielson and the growing number of coalition partners buying fifth-gen aircraft, there is a need to improve airspace and range capabilities to allow pilots of these aircraft the ability to practice and refine their tactics, techniques and procedures.

“The range squadron is dedicated to modernising the range infrastructure to provide the necessary training aids to hone these warfighter skills.”

The JPARC is managed by the USAF’s 354th RANS, which will work with nearby Fort Wainwright partners and the US Army, to continue the modernisation of infrastructure.

Reese added: “In coordination with our army partners on the range, we aim to provide expansive airspace coupled with a world-class bombing and electronic warfare range for joint and coalition partner training while enhancing and modernising the JPARC for the future warfighter.”

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The squadron addresses training infrastructure concerns in the JPARC by functioning as a centralised location for units.

USAF 354th Operations Group commander Colonel David Skalicky said: “Activating the range squadron is a huge step not just for Eielson but for the entire airforce.

“As we bring new capabilities online, especially here at Eielson, having the appropriate range to train on and having the type of systems we have to train with is key to being able to train for the future fight.”